Larry Tobin, former Tomahawk (Wisconsin) Leader publisher, dies at 75

Jan 1, 2022

Larry Michael Tobin, former publisher of the Tomahawk (Wisconsin) Leader, past president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and WNA Foundation, and Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame inductee, died Dec. 12, 2021. He was 75.

Tobin was born Feb. 4, 1946, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Charles A. and Fern (Lamar) Tobin. He graduated from St. Pius X High School in Kansas City and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.

During his third job out of college, as director of member services for the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, Tobin was assigned to attend the 1973 WNA convention, an event that changed his life. It was there that he began to develop a passion for the Wisconsin newspaper industry, and it was also where he met his future wife, Kathleen Ann Branen.

Tobin and Branen married 15 months later, on Feb. 8, 1975, in Burlington. Together they had two children — son Kerry and daughter Kelly — and five grandchildren.

Tobin joined the WNA staff in 1977, serving as assistant manager and legislative coordinator. He later spent a combined 21 years on the WNA Board of Directors and the WNA Foundation board, serving as president of each.

He held a fierce loyalty to the WNA long after his time on the boards, often stating, according to his obituary, that it “brought all the best things to his life.” The Tobins were regular fixtures at WNA events, including the annual convention and the Trees Retreat in Eagle River.

Tobin’s impact on the Wisconsin newspaper industry was recognized in 2015, when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame.

In August 1980, the Tobins purchased the Jefferson Banner, a weekly publication and one of the state’s oldest newspapers. They sold the Banner in January 1982, and three months later they purchased the Tomahawk Leader.

Larry and Kathy published the Leader together for 37 years until selling the newspaper in June 2019 to Multi Media Channels. As weekly newspaper owners, the Tobins blazed trails in community publishing, earning state and national acclaim.

They also were active in the community, giving back through several organizations. Larry served on the board for the Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce, including two terms as president. He also was a founding member and first president of the Advance Tomahawk Foundation, a charter member of the North Central Wisconsin Private Industry Council and served on the board of the Tomahawk Development Corporation.

Tobin’s extensive contributions to the community were recognized by the Tomahawk Jaycees, which honored him with a distinguished service award.

Funeral services were held Dec. 18 at Grace Lutheran Church in Tomahawk.